Impact of vehicular emissions on the formation of fine particles in the Sao Paulo Metropolitan Area: a numerical study with the WRF-Chem model

Vara-Vela, A.; Andrade, M. F.; Kumar, P.; Ynoue, R. Y.; Muñoz, A. G.
June 2015
Atmospheric Chemistry & Physics Discussions;2015, Vol. 15 Issue 12, p14171
Academic Journal
The objective of this work is to evaluate the impact of vehicular emissions on the formation of fine particles (PM2.5 ≤ 2.5 µm in diameter) in the Sao Paulo Metropolitan Area (SPMA) in Brazil, where ethanol is used intensively as a fuel in road vehicles. Weather Research and Forecasting with Chemistry (WRF-Chem) model is used as photochemical modelling tool to describe the physico-chemical processes leading to evolution of number and mass size distribution of particles through gas-to-particle conversion. A vehicular emission model based on statistical information of vehicular activity is applied to simulate vehicular emissions over the studied area. The study period during a month, between 7 August and 6 September 2012, is considered to perform the numerical simulations due to the availability of experimental data from the NUANCE-SPS (Narrowing the Uncertainties on Aerosol and Climate Changes in Sao Paulo State) project that aims to characterize emissions of atmospheric aerosols in the SPMA. Results show that the emission of primary gases from vehicles led to a production between 20 and 30% due to new particles formation in relation to the total mass concentration of PM2.5 in the downtown SPMA. Dust and sea-salt aerosols contributed with 40-50% of the total PM10 (PM10 ≤ 10µm in diameter) concentration. Furthermore, ground level O3 concentration decreased by about 2% when the aerosol-radiation feedback is taken into account. Over 40% of the formation of fine particles, by mass, was due to the emission of hydrocarbons, mainly aromatics. An increase in the number of small particles impaired the ultraviolet radiation and induced a decrease in ozone formation. Availability of experimental measurements of atmospheric aerosols and the application of the WRF-Chem model, which simulates feedbacks between meteorological variables and chemical species, made possible to represent some of the most important properties of fine particles in the SPMA such as the mass size distribution and chemical composition in addition to evaluate its formation potential through the gas-to-particle conversion processes.


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